Branding Iron

Custom branding irons for your livestock

The use of a branding iron is common on many large livestock farms in North America, as a way of distinguishing ownership. Most farmers will invest in a custom branding iron so that their brand (and their livestock) is easily identifiable. Cattle branding is an especially common practice, although other forms of identification, such as ear tags, are becoming more popular.

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A custom brand can easily work into a farmer's marketing plan. An original and identifiable brand not only makes it easy for other people to know which animals belong to which farmer, but provides a look of continuity on the farm products from a particular operation. When everything from your buildings to your livestock trailers to your machinery to your animals feature the same logo, it's easy to spread your name around local agricultural circles.

Cattle brands were, at one time, all done by heating up a metal iron and burning an image into the skin of an animal. However, today you can find a number of different techniques in use, and a cattle branding iron isn't always heated by fire.

Electric Branding Irons

Electric branding irons work on the same principle as traditional heated branding irons: an electric current heats the iron to temperatures above 700 degrees Fahrenheit. The iron is touched to an animal's skin, and the burn leaves a scar that can then identify the animal's owner.

An electric branding iron is a more reliable tool than traditional irons that were heated by fire, since you're able to control the temperature of the heat. This allows farmers to reduce the amount of heat used to complete the brand, which is better for the animal and the coat, which may be a special concern for horse farmers who don't want to damage the appearance of the animal but still need a brand for identification purposes.

Freeze Branding Irons

Freeze branding irons are brought down to extremely cold temperatures. Using a coolant such as liquid nitrogen, the irons are frozen, and placed on the animal's skin in a spot where the hair has been shaven. The freezing temperature damages the hair follicles, and when the hair grows back in, it will be white.

Freeze branding is easier on the animal, and is often more visible on animals with thick coats, such as horses. However, freeze branding is also a relatively slow process and isn't always completely reliable, so it hasn't replaced traditional branding irons completely.